The Q&A Archives: Fatsia japonica (common names-Castor Oil Plant or Japanese Aralia)

Question: What can you tell me about Japanese Fatsia as a houseplant? Laura Martinez Houston, Texas

Answer: Fatsia japonica (common names-Castor Oil Plant or Japanese Aralia), is a tropical evergreen native to Japan. It can grow to as tall as 16 ft and may produce small creamy flowers and black berries in fall or winter. Remove buds to encourage foliage. Prune in February or pinch back to keep compact. Wash leaves monthly with clear water and remove withered leaves. The form 'Moseri' has a compact shape. Variegated forms such as 'Variegata' and 'Albomarginata' grow slowly and require a higher temperature, as much as 60 degrees F in winter. Yellowing leaves indicate too warm and dry an environment. If the plant loses its lower leaves it may be air-layered. It can also be propagated from cuttings or seeds. Watch for aphids, mealybugs, red spiders, scaleand thrips. It tolerates shade and may be placed outdoors in summer. Does well in artificial light. Likes 35-50 degrees F at night. Water freely in the growing season..less the rest of the year. Do not let soil dry out. Needs good drainage. Feed monthly from February-October with mild liquid fertilizer.

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